Transcript Slide 1
I want to meet your leadership needs.
goal is to provide you with starter checklists you can use next week.
3 Please let me know whether I succeeded on your evaluation forms.
Why is this important?
• We all dread the tough
• After mastering the information
in this presentation, you will be
able to answer the following
• Some things are hard to hear.
• Some things are hard to say.
– Why is communication so hard?
• But uncomfortable things must
– What are the toughest
be heard and said if we are going
communication challenges for
to achieve and sustain
– Why are tough conversations so
• We avoid these conversations
– How can I listen effectively?
and put them off—sometimes
– How can I speak effectively?
much too long.
• Even a small improvement in
• When we finally do what has to
your communication skills will
be done, we often think we could
make a big difference in your
have done better.
• This presentation is about how
to do that.
kid yourself; there is a price to pay for mastering tough conversations; you will not be loved.
in life comes from those who like us—and those who don’t.
Why is communication so hard?
There are too many incoming messages.
We don’t want to hear what others have to say.
We suspect that others are “spinning.”
Messages are frequently inconsistent.
People talk too much.
People don’t include all interested parties in decisionmaking.
People only want to hear what they want to hear,
when they want to hear it and how they want to hear
Folks tell us more than we want to know.
The message is not clear.
The message keeps changing.
Emotions get in the way.
People forget to tell us how to do whatever it is.1,2
And so on
cousin explained most of what I needed to know about riding a Harley Davidson ™.
What makes tough conversations so
• They are triggered by a problem.
• They usually result from poor attitudes, bad behavior
or inferior results.
• They usually take place in the context of dramatically
• All parties are typically emotionally aroused.
• Both parties are usually poorly prepared.
• We are inclined to confront others when we are angry;
emotions eat content for lunch every day.1,2
• Feelings are going to be hurt.
• Mutual agreement is not likely.
• A joyful outcome is rarely possible.
• The aggrieved party will likely hate the confronter’s
guts for life.
• Most of us have limited experience with these
kinds of conversations.
• Most of us put them off too long.
conversations need not be so tough.
challenged a board decision about men visiting in the women’s dorms.
3 Amy challenged me about requiring a cardiologist to do his charts immediately.
What are some of the toughest
conversations for leaders?
• Informing a sincere and well-intentioned colleague
that he is not capable of doing the job
• Confronting a colleague who has body odor
• Telling a colleague that she is not practicing what she
• Telling a superior the truth he does not want to hear
• Informing a colleague that she is net-negative
• Listening objectively to negative feedback
• Refusing to counterpunch when attacked or falsely
• Listening quietly and respectfully to ignorant and
• Confronting colleagues about their disruptive
• Informing upset people that they are over
• Disagreeing with the group consensus.
• Speaking openly about “the elephant in
humiliation is fairly unpleasant.
have even been sued for saying, “Good Morning!”
How can you listen effectively during
– Accept that most complainers
will be upset.
– Expect them to be
– Anticipate that they will
– Know that your ability to
remain detached will be
– Be prepared to insist on a
certain amount of
professionalism and civility.
– Prepare to refuse to listen if
the complainant will not
– Anticipate the immediate
need for witnesses.
Become genuinely curious.
Ask clarifying questions to
make sure you understand.
Document evidence of the
Accept the speaker’s feelings.
Resist the urge to challenge
the speaker’s perceptions,
conclusions and demands.
Agree to investigate.
Insist on time to reflect.
Hold the complainer
accountable with follow up
of these tough conversations will be angry complaints about others.
the outburst will be your greatest challenge.
3 A surgeon complained that the director of surgery would not speak with him when a junior surgeon bumped him.
How can you speak effectively during
– Take time to prepare, but
don’t put it off too long.
– Summarize your position in
one simple sentence.
– Make notes outlining each
point you want to make.
– Consider rehearsing your
speech with an experienced
colleague who will give you
– Consider your communication
type options and choose the
best one. (Face-to-face is
usually, but not always, the
best way to communicate.)
– Review your plan with a
– Calm yourself.
– Admit up front that this is a
tough conversation to have.
– Use notes to stay focused.
– State your position in the
fewest words possible.
– Do not explain excessively.
– Avoid all argument.1,2
– Acknowledge the reality that
your listener may disagree
with you or have no interest
in what you have to say.
– Explain that your silence does
not give consent.
– Follow up your conversation
decided I had to fire a physician for a pattern of disruptive behavior.
the face of incredible pressure, I declined to explain why.
What have you learned?
• Communication is hard.
• Tough, mission-critical conversations are
• Following a leader-tested listening process will
• Complying with a talking checklist will also
make these conversations easier.
• Tough conversations are meant to
Suggest behavioral changes, and
• They are not meant to be fun.
• They are not meant to be perfect.
• They are meant to produce results.1,2,3
college professor confronted me about a speech on socialized medicine and changed my life.
toughest conversations are those you have with yourself.
3 A patient with depression was poorly motivated and I required her to get out of bed.
Where can you learn more?1
• Patterson, Kerry and Others, Crucial
Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes Are
• Patterson, Kerry and Others, Crucial
Confrontations: Tools for Talking About Broken
Promises, Violated Expectations and Bad
• DK Successful Manager’s Handbook, 2002.
• Stewart, Kendall L. and Others, A Portable
Mentor for Organizational Leaders, 2003
• Recruit a personal mentor and ask for
visit www.KendallLStewartMD.com to download related white papers and presentations.
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